FnS paid their second visit to the Electric Fields festival, held in the grounds of stunning Drumlanrig Castle.
Arriving the evening before, we were immediately intrigued by a giant inflatable ball, visible in the arena by a new arrival to Electric Fields – ‘The Skinny‘ tent. They were projecting images onto the ball at the time, but the floodlighting, as they were still setting up, meant we didn’t get to see this object, called ‘Liminal’, in all its glory until after darkness fell and the full moon rose the following evening.
We were camping. OK, the facilities were minimal really – There were toilets, no showers, and a place to park in a field adjacent to the camp-site field – but as camping for the punters was for one night only, post festival, the lack of showers
was not really that big a deal. The facilities are changing for the expanded 2016 festival so if you’re planning on going, check their website for details nearer the time. Inside the arena was the usual assortment of food vendors, bars, some
children friendly activities & a selection of merch sellers.
Electric Fields is a relatively new, and pretty intimate, festival; the first being held in 2014. For the first two years it has been a one day event (the last Saturday in August) but as of 2016 it will be a 2 day festival, spread over the last Friday and Saturday of August.
2015 saw the introduction of ‘The Skinny‘ tent and what was, last year, the acoustic stage was upgraded to two side by side stages (‘To Lose La Trek‘), holding a mix of acoustic and full band performances. Add the two main stages (‘Carse Valley‘ & ‘The Arc‘, located side by side) to the mix, and you have a fairly compact arena, hosting 5 stages, with non-stop music to entertain and distress – given some of the unfortunate clashes. I often found myself, mid- field, frantically looking at the line-up listing and thinking ‘Where am I going next…’ There was much speculation among those we spoke to about who would be playing the TBC slot in The Skinny tent, but considering who we had met, wandering the field, earlier in the day (along with some not so subtle graphical hints and eventual confirmation on Twitter) we were sure we already knew. As word spread through the day, it was lovely to see our first acoustic The Twilight Sad set playing to a rammed tent. It was also great to see Aberdeen represented by The Little Kicks and The Xcerts, who rocked the main stages.
The ‘To Lose La Trek’ stages hosted a few familiar faces along with many new ones. These stages hosted acts from ‘Hit the Road‘, an organisation that takes young Scottish performers, age 14-19, out into the real world to gain valuable experience. Varying between the acoustic goodness of Alyth Ross, to the synths & gentle melodies of MØGEN, to the bouncing ska from Root System and Victorian Trout Conspiracy, via upbeat rock & roll à la Springsteen from Cammy Black and onto the unusual and occasional mournful sounds of Man of Moon, it was a great mixed bag of acts. The stages alternated smoothly, with maybe 5-10 mins between acts. I think some seating (even just a bunch of hay bales) in this closed off area would have been a bonus. Due to some bogginess underfoot, sitting on the ground really wasn’t an option.
‘The Skinny‘ tent provided a mixed bag of entertainment: From the aforementioned The Twilight Sad acoustic, to catchy pop-rockers Catholic Action, who were doing the rounds at quite a few festivals this summer. We had krautrock courtesy of of Outblinker and enthusiastic syths and vocals from Happy Meals. There were some intense multi-synth work from East India Youth (who strongly reminded me of Matt Smith’s Doctor Who, working his TARDIS controls) and then there was Blanck Mass, whose deep drone eventually drove me from the tent with a disordered stomach. It was a great addition to the festival and introduced us to some new faces and sounds – always a good thing.
Located directly adjacent to each other, ‘Carse Valley’ and ‘The Arc’ were, of course, the focal point of the festival. Many of the names here were familiar but it is always good to find some new ones to check out. Crash Club created some bounce early in the day, followed by old favourites, Randolph’s Leap. I was looking forward to seeing Kloe again, but due to illness The Van T‘s were covering that slot. Esperanza provided their usual lively set, the crowd joining the skanking. Paws managed to break their drum stool and Hector Bizerk had everyone squatting in the mud. King Creosote was a massive contrast from Blanck Mass in The Skinny tent, it was a bit of a headfuck coming out from the deep bass drone into the light and lively main stage headliner set.
I can’t mention them all, but there were so many other bands throughout the day that were all a pleasure to encounter. It’s always a shame to miss any due to conflicts, but there will be other days and other festivals to catch up on them.
The 2016 offering is looking like a big step up, moving to a 2 day event – with Primal Scream and The Charlatans headlining, along with a full band set from The Twilight Sad, and newcomers to the fields, Everything Everything, Public Service Broadcasting, Wild Beasts & Sugarhill Gang, amongst others. There are familiar names from the previous two year along with some new ones. All in all a great mix giving us all something to look forward to. A new addition is Edinburgh’s Sneaky Pete’s tent, for lovers of electronic dance music and for the first time in Scotland, Tim Burgess will be putting together his own line-up of live music & DJ’s on the Tim Peaks Stage (complete with coffee).
You can take a look at more images from the festival in our flickr gallery, here.
Boutique camping is new this year, along with a real ale area and a full selection of food for all, whether full-blooded carnivore or veggie loving vegan. Tickets are flying and are, at £85 for the weekend with camping, a real steal. Grab ’em while you can, because this will be a weekend to remember.